Public Engagement

General Public

What History Could Have Been Symposium

Friday, February 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Orozco Room, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall 66 West 12th Street, Room A712, New York, NY 10011

What is history? What has it been? What could it be?

 Exercises in conjectural historiography, featuring:

-Matthew Jesse Jackson (University of Chicago)
-Jenny Perlin (The New School)
-John Tresch (University of Pennsylvania)
-Winnie Wong (Berkeley)
-Soyoung Yoon (The New School)

Organized by D. Graham Burnett (Princeton) and Dominic Pettman (The New School), these scholars will convene to present an éloge (or in memoriam, or ordinary obituary, according to preference) of a philosopher of history and/or innovator in historiographical practice who did not live between 1600 and 1990—but could/should have existed.

Their collective anomalies represent a “path not taken” in the evolution of historical thought in the modern period. In this communal exercise of “conjectural historiography,” the presiding spirits will be Borges, Vico, and great forger-critics of the Renaissance; the group will aim for the conjuring vitality of parafictional artists like Michael Blum and the Atlas Group.

The shared purpose? To make trenchant arguments about historical possibilities by means of short works combining rigor and imagination in equal measures. 

This project, a joint initiative of the Liberal Studies Program at the New School for Social Research and Princeton's Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM), represents a sally in the direction of a hybrid scholarly-creative practice, and their ambition lies in the direction of a short book— a prosopographic collation of what history could have been (and may yet be).

Support for this event came from Liberal Studies Program at the New School for Social Research, and Princeton's Department of History, History of Science program, and Center for Collaborative History.


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